Huntley High School’s library was crowded and not real quiet around 2:45 p.m. Wednesday.
It was the first day of the NCAA early signing period for scholarship athletes for baseball, basketball, golf, softball, tennis, volleyball and wrestling. Those athletes committed to NCAA Division I or II schools can sign their national letters of intent until Wednesday.
Seven Red Raiders, some wearing their college caps, signed their NCAA letters in the library with parents, coaches and teammates in attendance.
“It was great to celebrate the achievements of our athletic careers going on to the next step in college,” said baseball player Mark Skonieczny, who will catch and play outfield at Illinois. “It was great to see how all of our student-athletes are going on to play at the college level and have put in the hard work and dedication to achieve that.”
Basketball player Amanze Egekeze, a varsity player since his freshman year, signed with D-I Belmont in Nashville, Tenn. He is the first area D-I boys player since 2009 Jacobs graduate Conrad Krutwig played at South Dakota.
“I’m just happy to have the whole thing over with, it’s a long process, a big load off my shoulders,” said Egekeze, a 6-foot-8 forward. “Now I can focus and gear myself towards this season and getting myself ready for college.”
Belmont coach Rick Byrd has led the Bruins to the NCAA Tournament three consecutive years and won the Ohio Valley Conference six of the last eight seasons.
“No one has transferred from that school in 13 years,” Egekeze said. “There’s a lot of really good things coming out of that program.”
Also signing was Sam Andrews, the 2013 Northwest Herald Girls Basketball Player of the Year, who will attend D-II Truman (Mo.) State. The other four signing with NCAA schools were baseball players: Troy Cantu (D-II Illinois-Springfield), Nick Constantino (D-II Drury, Mo.), Eric Luecht (D-II Lewis) and Matt Sullivan (D-I Chicago State).
Cantu recently committed to Illinois-Springfield, which recruited him as a shortstop. Cantu played shortstop with his travel team, Top Tier, over the summer, but may play another infield position next spring since Sullivan was the Raiders shortstop last season.
“It’s a dream come true,” Cantu said. “You learn about that, set your goals and now can play another four years. I knew UIS was kind of a new program. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the coaches, that’s kind of what pulled me toward the school.”
Potts to NIU: Prairie Ridge senior Ashley Potts, who competes with Huntley Unlimited Gymnastics School, recently committed to Northern Illinois University for a full scholarship. Potts, a Level 10 competitor, experienced a large case of nerves in May at the Junior Olympic National Invitational Tournament, where numerous college coaches were in attendance.
“It was nerve-racking,” Potts said. “I realized they were watching me and I didn’t want to mess up. I had my best meet of the season.”
Potts was recruited by NIU, Eastern Michigan, Rutgers and Southeast Missouri State.
“She’s a very good all-around competitor,” said Mario Noguez, Potts’ coach at HUGS. “Her strength is her love for the sport and the effort she puts into it. It makes it easy to coach her. She’s such a hard-working kid, that’s her best asset.”